Lost Professionalism in Local News?




Image by Paul Kiser

Local news just bloggers with big cameras?

This week the Reno, Nevada NBC affiliate, KRNV, ran a lead story that was blatantly biased (See article.) The story was meant to stir up anger against the government. More significantly, the story was not by a local news reporter, nor a seasoned professional, but a ‘National Correspondent’ with a very questionable resume.

Local news stations are under  severe financial pressure. Once, the local television station was the 800-pound gorilla in the communication market and could demand the largest fees for advertising. Local stations had a team of reporters eager to go after a story and get the scoop before their competitors.

Today, even national news teams struggle to get the news before it becomes common knowledge on social media. Local stations lost their status as primary sources of information and that has led advertisers to seek other ways to reach the public. As advertising revenue has collapsed, local stations have shredded their news teams and moved away from costly investigative reporting.

To fill the gap, local news stations have resorted to news services and national stories provided by their parent organizations. This has pushed local news aside for commercialized news that is created, packaged, and sold to local stations.

In the case of KRNV, the story lead story was produced by Kristine Frazao, a young reporter who specializes in anti-government stories. Almost all of her national reporting experience with an American version of Russia’s Pravda news organization. She lacks the professionalism of a journalist, and seeks to incite her audience, rather than offer insightful information.

It is left to us to recognize nonprofessionals as local stations have sacrificed good reporting for desperation.

Freedom of Religion is Not a Mandate For Religion

Evangelical's Goal:  An American Church-run State?

Evangelical’s Goal: An American church-run State?

 Religious freedom is a term that the Christian Taliban is throwing around by the bucketful lately. The problem is that they use it to justify a desire to inflict their religious beliefs on everyone else. They claim that if they are not allowed to force others to follow their mythological ideology of controlling women’s health choices, defining love and marriage, and replacing science with stupidity, then their religious freedoms are being restricted.

However, religious freedom is exactly opposite of what many Evangelicals believe. The First Amendment to our Constitution states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

It’s the first ten words that are skipped over by Evangelicals. They focus on the next six words and claim that the Constitution says they can do whatever they please, including forcing non-believers to be subject to and abide by their mythological beliefs, but the first ten words clearly indicate that establishment of a religion (a set of mythological beliefs) is forbidden.

The brilliance of the Constitution is that it protects the individual, not the group, which prevents the United States of America to serve all people, and prevents rule by a Christian lynch mob.

A Cup of Like

Image by Paul Kiser

A Grande Like

10º  I don’t feel it’s appropriate for a business to ‘love’ its customers. Loving someone is a personal bond that shouldn’t be related to business, (unless you’re Lady Gaga, then you can love your ‘monsters.’)

However, I do feel strongly that a business should ‘like‘ its customers. When I go into a Starbucks I can tell if they are serving drinks, or if they are offering a cup of like. Anyone can serve a drink, but serving like requires more than the mechanics of taking an order, knowing how much milk to put in a cup, and/or yelling, “I have a Venti Latte with two shots on the bar!”

My home Starbucks on 7th and Keystone in Reno, Nevada has ‘like’ down. They seem truly happy when a customer walks in the door. That doesn’t mean they don’t have their down days, but most of the time you will get more than your drink from the staff.

This is not what I experience when I travel. It’s easy to pick on airlines, because if there is one group of people who don’t ‘like’ their customers, it’s air travel industry. But, finding hotel or restaurant staff that makes you feel liked is harder and harder to do.

In fact, a business that likes their customer is so rare that a genuine friendly person stands out among the ugliness of customer service in most businesses. The opportunity to beat the competition is to simply like your customers.

The place to start is with management. Managers have to like their staff and like their job. If their not happy then how can the staff possibly be?

It’s Time To Drop the “C” From NCAA

College football uses its stadium about 8 days a year. It stands as a monument to Higher Education's waste of resources.

College football uses its stadium about 8 days a year. It stands as a monument to Higher Education’s waste of resources.

Athletes making more appearances in court than in class. Millions of dollars spent to recruit athletes, only to have them jump to a professional league before they graduate. Athletes that have paid staff minders to make sure they go to class, do their homework, and study. Money donated by alumni to only benefit major athletic programs. When will universities admit that big sports is not compatible with higher education?

Money for nothing. Donors giving to big sport programs

Money for nothing. Donors giving to big sport programs

The excuses are wearing thin. The NCAA tries to sell the idea during the televised college football or basketball game, the athletes on the field or court will become great scientists, doctors, and lawyers. Of course, the examples are all athletes of every other sport.

Maybe a donor that will only give to athletics is not the person to associate with higher education?

Maybe a donor that will only give to athletics is not the person to associate with higher education?

The marriage between sports and colleges is a joke and it’s time for a divorce. The National Athletic Association (NCAA) should become the National Athletic Association (NAA.) We know college basketball and football athlete’s first, second, and third priorities are in pursuit of a big professional contract. To deny this is just an excuse to make us feel better when they sit in the back of the college classroom playing on their phones.

Make the professional leagues pay for bringing along young athletes and let higher education focus on education.

Air Travel Teaches Us Not To Listen

Zombies are real people forced to listen to airport/airline announcements

Airports and airlines are dedicated to teaching people how to not listen.

There are multiple studies, solid scientific research, on how humans respond to communication and how we best learn and retain information. Unfortunately, air travel offers the antithesis of everything we know about communication.

Outdated Audio Technology
Consider the airport. We have the technology for crystal clear sound in any announcement system. Visit a Disney property and you will hear clear announcements. Every word will be perfect with little or no distortion or hiss.

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…” 
Disneyland announcement

If we can do it in Disneyland, solely for entertainment purposes, shouldn’t airports invest in the same quality of public announcement (PA) system when it involves matters of even greater importance? PA systems designed to go into ceiling tiles suck. Maybe it’s time we considered a system designed for the airport environment of 2014, not the office building of 1960.

Zoned Out
Every gate at an airport is a different audio zone, and yet few airports have designed PA systems for this environment. Because most airports have overlapping seating at every gate, passengers for one flight could be sitting in any of three gate areas or standing out in the concourse area just outside of the gate. Few airports seem to understand this geographic distribution. Some airports limit gate announcements to one gate area, resulting in flight announcements to be missed by those passengers not in that gate’s audio zone. Other airports group multiple gates into one zone, so that passengers four of five gates away are hearing boarding announcements for every flight in the area.

Over Communication
The greatest sin of airports is over communication. It seems that airports have a perverse need to create ongoing, excessive, annoying noise. Do these sound familiar?

Please keep your bags with you at all times. Unattended baggage may be confiscated and destroyed.

The Federal Aviation Administration allows you to carry up to three containers of liquids, aerosols, and gels. They must be in a clear plastic bag and removed from your luggage for inspection. Please check with your airline for more information.

Do not carry anything in for anyone else….

I have heard these announcements and many more like them while waiting in the gate area. The gate area within TSA’s secure zone. Anyone in this area has been passed the security check point and they and their luggage has been searched and cleared. None of these announcements make sense in an area where everyone has been declared safe to board a plane. They are just noise.

At the gate you will also hear multiple announcements by the gate agent. If there is any training involved of gate agents on how to make PA announcements it would not be apparent from my experience in air travel. Recently, I was waiting for a flight in the Newark, New Jersey airport. The longest period I counted without an announcement was nine seconds. Between the meaningless airport general announcements and the multiple gate agent announcements the passengers were bombarded with endless noise.

The Solution
There is important information that passengers need before they board their flight; however, it is impossible for passengers to determine important announcements for the noise generated in an airport. The remedy involves the FAA, Airport Authorities, and the airlines to reevaluate the purpose of airline announcements…actually they need to assign a purpose to their communications.

Better equipment is a must, and better training on how to effectively communicate information over a PA system. Another possibility is to run all announcements through a centralized public address system where boarding announcements would be made by one trained person who filtered information and determined what audio zones would hear it. 

There is another approach but it would involve a complete redesign of the concept of an airport. That’s not likely in an industry that took decades to determine that an iPod isn’t a threat to a plane’s avionics.

Business Should Always Come Later

Flower now, the leaves can come later

Flower now, the leaves can come later

83°  The trees in Reno have decided it’s Spring. Some are showing a green tint as new leaves are just breaking out of their buds. Leaves are nice and they perform a vital function in processing carbon dioxide into oxygen.

However, other trees have a different approach to Spring. They don’t bother with leaves until after they put on a show. The flowering trees are bursting out, saying, “Spring is here! We made it!”

Flowering trees need the function of the leaves on their branches just as much as any other tree, but flowering trees know that business can come later, today, we PARTY!

Service Dog? Really?

A real Service Dog, or just a liar for an owner?

A real Service Dog, or just a liar for an owner?

112°  I know that dogs serve humans in many capacities, but a “Service Dog” has specific training to aid a human who has special needs. Slapping a “Service Dog” halter on a dog so you can take it into Starbucks is not the intent of the Service Dog concept. I believe that anyone who masquerades their pet around as a Service Dog is lying to the public and cannot be trusted. I also believe that anyone who would disgrace the title of Service Dog should not be allowed to have a pet.

I’m just saying.

A Perfect Spring Day

Everything about today felt like Spring

Everything about today felt like Spring

207°  Often the first day of Spring is having a Winter tantrum. That didn’t happen this year on the West Coast. Temperatures ranged from 15° C (approximately 60° F) up to 21°C (approximately 70°F.) The air was mostly calm and warm. 

It’s almost enough to make you want to plant your garden….or not.

View of the Gods

Downtown Denver, from the cloud's perspective

Downtown Denver, Colorado, from the cloud’s perspective

265°  Yesterday, I was given the privilege of seeing what clouds see everyday. Flying is an honor that we tend to forget after the humiliation and expense we go through to board a plane.

I arrived in Denver, Colorado as the Sun was breaking through some clouds. Have spent almost one-third of my life in Denver, and almost two-thirds in Colorado.I always enjoy seeing it from the air.

New York City from above Newark, New Jersey

New York City from above Newark, New Jersey

97°  I have flown into Newark, New Jersey once before, but somehow I missed seeing New York City as we landed. Yesterday, I had a ringside seat. Of course, my business took me to the West, but at least I got to see the Big Apple.

Big cities are congested, rampant with crime, and expensive…little cities are blissfully ignorant, boring, and people mock surprise when the neighbor shoots his wife. In a little town, change occurs slowly and long after it should, In a big city things are constantly changing. I’ve seen towns big and small and I think the bigger they are, the harder you fall.

The Cost of Dissatisfaction

Selling a place in line

Selling a place in line

270°  Accountants and investors are killers of commerce. It just takes them a long time to do it.

I usually fly Southwest Airlines. I like Southwest, but sometimes they sacrifice customer relations for a few dollars more.

Southwest’s policy of seating is just slightly better than chaos. Instead of having a seat assigned when you purchase your ticket, you are sold a place in a line. Instead of First Class, Southwest has Business Select, which means the ticket holder is in the first 15 places in line. The catch is that if you’re plane is late, or the outgoing flight has a significant number of passengers continuing on, the place in line can be meaningless. 

It can be frustrating to be on a plane that is late because of a disorganized flight crew, then be one of the last in line for the connecting flight. This is only made worse if the first flight causes the passenger to miss the connection. The passenger then goes to the back of the line for the next available flight.

Now Southwest accountants have decided that not enough people are buying the Business Select fares, so they are selling  them at the last-minute. For $40 more I could have moved up 27 places in line for a two-hour flight to Denver. I didn’t take it, but I fly a lot with Southwest and it is irritating that Southwest accountants are ready to put the impulse buyer ahead of me.

I’m sure others are offended by Southwest’s whoring of the boarding process. It is a slap in the face to the flyer who brings the most business to the airline. Dissatisfaction has a cost in the long run. Dissatisfaction makes the customer ripe for alternatives, and once the customer decided to leave it is almost impossible to win them back.